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Controlling the State: Constitutionalism from Ancient Athens to Today / Edition 1

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Overview

This book examines the development of the theory and practice of constitutionalism, defined as a political system in which the coercive power of the state is controlled through a pluralistic distribution of political power. It explores the main venues of constitutional practice in ancient Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Venice, the Dutch Republic, seventeenth-century England, and eighteenth-century America.

From its beginning in Polybius' interpretation of the classical concept of "mixed government," the author traces the theory of constitutionalism through its late medieval appearance in the Conciliar Movement of church reform and in the Huguenot defense of minority rights. After noting its suppression with the emergence of the nation-state and the Bodinian doctrine of "sovereignty," the author describes how constitutionalism was revived in the English conflict between king and Parliament in the early Stuart era, and how it has developed since then into the modern concept of constitutional democracy.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice

While not defending any particular version of constiturionalism as best, Gordon argues persuasively that some form of constitutional government is necessary for both prosperity and the preservation of individual liberty.
— R. Hudelson

Law and Politics Book Review

An unusually sweeping book...[Gordon] provides a...concise and accessible introduction to the history of constitutional government ... Particularly valuable for its distinctive emphasis on countervailing power as the cornerstone of constitutional governance and its broad survey of the practice and idea of constitutionalism over the course of Western history.
— Keith E. Whittington

Choice - R. Hudelson
While not defending any particular version of constiturionalism as best, Gordon argues persuasively that some form of constitutional government is necessary for both prosperity and the preservation of individual liberty.
Law and Politics Book Review - Keith E. Whittington
An unusually sweeping book...[Gordon] provides a...concise and accessible introduction to the history of constitutional government ... Particularly valuable for its distinctive emphasis on countervailing power as the cornerstone of constitutional governance and its broad survey of the practice and idea of constitutionalism over the course of Western history.
Choice
While not defending any particular version of constiturionalism as best, Gordon argues persuasively that some form of constitutional government is necessary for both prosperity and the preservation of individual liberty.
— R. Hudelson
Law and Politics Book Review
An unusually sweeping book...[Gordon] provides a...concise and accessible introduction to the history of constitutional government ... Particularly valuable for its distinctive emphasis on countervailing power as the cornerstone of constitutional governance and its broad survey of the practice and idea of constitutionalism over the course of Western history.
— Keith E. Whittington
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674009776
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 412
  • Product dimensions: 0.84 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott Gordon is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics and of the History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University, Bloomington, and Professsor Emeritus of Economics at Queen's University, Canada.
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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

1. The Doctrine of Sovereignty

The Classical Doctrine of Sovereignty

The People as Sovereign

Parliament as Sovereign

Critics of Sovereignty

2. Athenian Democracy

Constitutional Development

The Athenian Political System

The Theory of the Athenian Constitution

The Doctrine of Mixed Government

The Constitutional Totalitarianism of Sparta

3. The Roman Republic

The Development of the Republic, and Its Fall

The Political System of the Republic

Theoretical Interpretation of the Republican System

4. Countervailance Theory in Medieval Law, Catholic Ecclesiology, and Huguenot Political Theory

Canon Law and Roman Law

Catholic Ecclesiology and the Conciliar Movement

The Huguenot Political Theorists

5. The Republic of Venice

Venice and Europe

The Venetian System of Government

Venetian Constitutionalism

Church and State

The Myth of Venice

Venice, Mixed Government, and Jean Bodin

6. The Dutch Republic

The Golden Age of the Dutch Republic

The Political History of the Republic, 1566-1814

The Republican Political System

Dutch Political Theory

7. The Development of Constitutional Government and Countervailance Theory in Seventeenth-Century England

Religious Toleration and Civic Freedom

The Roles of Parliament

"Mixed Government" and the Countervailance Model

The Early Stuart Era

From the Civil War to the Revolution of 1688

The Provenance of English Countervailance Theory

The Eighteenth Century, and Montesquieu

8. American Constitutionalism

The Political Theory of the American Revolution

The State Constitutions

The National Constitution

The Bill of Rights and the Judiciary

A Note on Provenance

9. Modern Britain

Archaic Remnants: The Monarchy and the House of Lords

The House of Commons and the Cabinet

The Bureaucracy

The Judiciary

Unofficial Political Institutions: Pressure Groups

Epilogue

References

Index

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